Best Natural Latex Value for Me?

I’m going to try and be brief but supply as much info as might be helpful:

I’m sold on all latex for my new king mattress to go with new king bed (currently on a queen manufactured by Hawn Bedding in Lee’s Summit MO). I am in Omaha NE now.

Priorities for my wife and I are all natural (not necessarily organic) latex. I do not have a location to really try latex options out, so I’ll be buying somewhat blind (know that I think I could probably sleep on anything and I don’t think my wife is picky if supported). That said a reasonable return/exchange policy is obviously desired. I’m looking for the best value in the combination that is most likely to work for my wife and I. We are both around 175lbs, she is mainly a side sleeper who would like to convert to a back sleeper (and thinks she could as she can when she sleeps on a softer couch), and I’m a back sleeper. I think we would both prefer the firmer of what makes logical sense.

I’ve eliminated the idea of using FBM latex for a DIY mattress and narrowed my search to SleepEz and Arizona Premium Mattress. At SleepEz I thinking about a 10000 series. To save some $$ I’m considering natural talalay in a non-organic cotton+wool case. At I think the equal would be a 6" talalay core and 2" talalay top - possibly upgraded to 3 inch for comparison to the SleepEz latex and still at a lower cost.

So I guess my questions are as follow:

Are both construction styles considered differential construction because the top is meant to be the only comfort portion of the mattress? Is the only difference loss of re-arranging flexibility with having 6" plus 2-3" instead of 3"+3"+3"? Is the comfort layer too soft (I think they said it’s only available in soft). Would similar ILD selections have these to mattress feeling similar?..

Does one have a “better” cover if I want natural (not necessarily organic) products used?

Do I still need a protective cover over their cotton+wool covers? Will this reduce the quality of the way the mattress feels with all these extra materials on top of the latex?

Should I go out and buy a local inexpensive “box spring”, “foundation”…? I need the mattress raised around 9" of the widely spread slats of my new bed. Do some people place a “foundation” with legs over or in place of the slats, or am I just looking for a solid wood box (I know I don’t want is “springy”).

I’m trying not to be OCD so I value your input.


…meant to post this with my user name…

Hi jdog,

OK … one at a time :slight_smile:

There are three local factory direct outlets near you which may be worth including in your research. If they have similar value then it’s always more accurate to actually lay on a mattress than it is to go by averages in an online purchase. They are … (see post #519 here)
Furniture Row® Store Locations - Store Hours & Addresses

The difference between a differential and progressive construction is really how far apart the upper layer ILD is from the layer below it. For example a 3" 19 ILD comfort layer over a 6" 36 ILD support layer would be differential. A 2" 24 ILD over a 6" 32 ILD support layer would be more progressive because the lower layer may need to “help” the thinner comfort layer with pressure relief so you wouldn’t want the difference in the ILD between the layers to be so much that you felt an obvious “firm” layer underneath it. Differential really means that the comfort layer is thick enough that it doesn’t need any “help” from the layers below it so they can be much firmer without feeling a more sudden transition. Progressive on the other hand is designed so that the comfort layer blends in with the lower layers more and there is less of a sudden transition between them. They are really opposite ends of a spectrum in terms of different layering patterns and most mattresses fall somewhere in between.

There is a fairly big difference between 6 + 2 and 6 + 3 because layer thickness can be just as important as layer softness. Because a 2" comfort layer may need some help from the lower layers with pressure relief for say a side sleeper, the lower layer may need to be a little softer than with a 3" layer. On the other hand if a 2" layer provides good pressure relief for say a back sleeper then a 3" layer of the same ILD would be less desirable and slightly reduce the ability of the firmer layer under it to produce the best alignment. There would be more foam than was necessary so the heavier parts could “sink down” further into the mattress relative to other parts of the body in other words.

One difference between 3+3+3 and 6+3 of course is flexibility in layering possibilities. You can adjust all 3 layers with the 3+3+3 while in the standard version of the 6 + 2 you can only adjust the support layer. While both can work very well … with a 3+3 you can effectively increase the support factor of the lower layers over a layer that only has a single ILD. For example if someone was to choose a 28 middle layer and then a 36 bottom layer … the rough equivalent would be a 6" layer of about 32 ILD. The 3+3 would start off softer (could help the upper layers more) and then get firmer faster as you compressed deeper into the layer while the single ILD 6" layer would “firm up” at a more gradual rate. One is not “better” than another but the 3 + 3 is more flexible. They both would involve different choices.

This would depend entirely on the person but for most people no. The layer thickness would make a bigger difference here than the layer ILD. The 3" SleepEz soft is 22 - 24 and the 2" from is 22 so they are pretty much the same. With SleepEz you have the “standard” option though of choosing a firmer comfort layer which could offset the thicker layer for a pure back sleeper if needed while the thickness is already in the range of being good for a back sleeper and would be “adjusted” for a side sleeper with changes in the layer below. Both can make custom adjustments to their “standard” layering choices if requested.

Only if the layer thicknesses were the same and the 2 bottom layers of the sleepez were both the same ILD as the 6" layer.

In effect they are different constructions and are somewhat difficult to “translate” into each other although there are versions of each that are closer together and further apart. The most accurate method is to closely approximate a layering that you have tested or without testing to go by the suggestions of each vendor that have proven to be the most accurate “on average” for people with a similar profile. They both have a lot of experience with many different people and sleeping styles and will willingly share it.

I haven’t seen each cover in person and directly compared them but to my knowledge they are both good quality options that would roughly compare. You could ask them how many oz/sq yd of wool was in each to do a rough comparison of the wool content as one means of comparison. I do like the sleepez non quilted cover (the picture on their site is not correct and you can see it here … except it’s off white not the color in the picture).

IMO … yes to needing it … and what type will depend on the tradeoffs that you believe best fit your circumstances. Post #2 here will give you some examples of some of the tradeoffs involved. A search on “protector” without the quotes will also bring up a few more posts. This article also talks about some of the choices involved in the quilting. Every layer on top of your mattress will have some effect on the layers below it and the thicker and less stretchy the layers above the latex (quilting, ticking, protector, any mattress pads, sheets) … the bigger the effect it will have on the latex.

The goal is for your foundation/bed combination to be as stable, firm, and non flexible as possible regardless of the configuration you use and in the case of a double or larger size there should be good strong support to the floor in the middle area to prevent sagging. Slats should be a maximum of about 3" (or less) apart and the construction of the foundation should be strong enough to not bend under the weight of the mattress with the people on it. Some manufacturers sell a steel foundation on a wood base which is also very strong and seems to work very well. If you can find a suitable foundation locally that is strong enough and has slats that are close enough together then that is a great option.

Hope I managed to answer all your questions.


Thanks your for your reply. You have helped greatly. There is so much to consider with this - I hope I’m not pushing my luck asking more questions :whistle:

We’ve stopped by Lebeda and I’ve talked to Midwest Bedding on the phone. Though I would certainly like to buy local, I’ve sort of ruled them out for several reasons. I don’t think they deal in natural latex which is important to us. I believe the “latex” mattress at Lebeda was 6" of latex with 1" of foam on top and bottom, and we don’t want any foam. We thought the bed felt good/fine to lay on, but it felt like we bottomed out when sitting - definitely not enough depth to this 8" mattress. We also don’t want any non-latex foam in our construction. Maybe I’m assuming to much and they’d make me what I want, but my impression is they don’t have experience with high quality or DIY latex mattresses.

We also stopped by “Happy Mattress” which someone else mentioned sells a Restonic brand. They said they were sold out of their “2011” latex bed and didn’t know when they’d be getting the “2012”. They did have a cutaway of the “2011” that showed it had a respectable amount of latex (I can’t remember how much), but again there was other foam in the mattress and of course it’s blended talalay.

If we are going to buy this “blind”, which I know you don’t really recommend, it sounds like spending more for the 3x3" layers might be wise for flexibility, especially since we could get his and hers pieces and the swap amongst each other too if required (I called them and I think they recommend Soft-Medium-Firm for our profiles). I wouldn’t feel right driving to Kansas to try Savvy Rest mattresses knowing I’m not willing to pay their prices.

On quilting - I guess I need to decide if I want “soft to the touch” property built into in the mattress pad instead of the mattress cover. The article you linked to seems to indicate this is the main reason to have it, along with a fire barrier, with an all latex mattress. Does that mean the non-quilted option from Sleep-ez does not have a fire barrier (since they are selling pieces and not a mattress), or is it just not an all cotton product and has barrier properties? And what’s the deal with bamboo covering when the mattress is going to get covered by sheets at a minimum?

Hi jdog,

Nope … I’m happy to help with as many questions as I can.

In many cases a local manufacturer will custom build as long as what they are building falls within the prototype they have tested (in terms of materials and thickness) to conform to the fire code. It is always well worth asking if they can build to your specifications instead of selling you a “stock” model. Many will.

In terms of which type of latex … if your primary consideration is offgassing … then either all natural talalay, blended talalay, or all natural Dunlop will be equivalent. None of these have offgassing issues and both types of talalay are Oeko-Tex certified which means they are safe for babies. If your primary “value” consideration is how natural the raw material is, then of course all natural latex using either the talalay or dunlop process of making a latex foam would be the best choice.

Polyfoam is never “natural” and inferior to all of the latex choices IMO even though it is often used in a quilting layer for the soft hand feel or to change the overall feel of the mattress. I normally recommend to never use more than an inch of polyfoam to avoid impression and foam softening issues although even this is not as “desirable” as sleeping right on top of the latex itself. The biggest tradeoffs between natural and blended talalay is that the all natural talalay is not as durable especially in the softest versions that are used in the top layers of a mattress.

This is part of the normal response of latex because of it’s natural elasticity. Most latex mattresses will “bottom out” when you sit on the edge or at least compress much more than other types of mattress. This is not an indication that the mattress is not thick enough because it is designed to work in the prone position. While this deeper compression won’t harm or “wear out” the mattress … there are some people who prefer a firmer edge and there are some manufactureres who will use a firm polyfoam “racetrack” or foam perimeter to support people who sit on the edge of their mattress. This is promoted as a “benefit” but is not a great idea because the polyfoam will wear out much faster than the latex and it also uses a much cheaper material to replace a more expensive and desireable material and then is sold as an “upgrade”. In some cases you can also purchase a mattress with firmer latex around the edge of the mattress which can help with this for those who put more value in the ability to have a firmer edge on their mattress.

I don’t think there is ever such a thing as asking too much and finding out whether they can make what you want is just part of the process if they don’t have it in their floor models. There is a difference between custom building a mattress and a DIY mattress. The first is usually a service offered by many local manufacturers who can adjust the standard layers that they use. The second are layer that are purchased separately and then combined in a zip cover and has the ability to exchange layers if an online purchase doesn’t quite work out. Some local manufacturers will make comfort changes after the fact for a nominal fee while online manufacturers will send you a whole new loose layer and exchange it for the layer you want to change. I would trust your instinct though and your experience with each manufacturer if you ask them and they can’t do what you want. Sometimes an employee of a local manufacturer which has several outlets may also not be as familiar with what is possible and it’s worth talking to the people who actually make the mattress to see if what you want is possible.

Restonic is a national brand which is made up of a group of licensees each of whom manufacture for a different area of the country. Each licensee will often make their mattresses with different materials and in some areas Restonic has mattresses which are “all latex” while in other areas there is polyfoam above the latex. They all use blended Talalay to my knowledge. Clare bedding who is the Restonic licensee in our area is IMO one of the better licensees and they have a spec sheet for all the Restonic models that they make on their website. They do (or at least did when I talked with them) make “all talalay latex” mattresses in their Health Rest line and I was impressed with how responsive they were to my phone calls. They focus mainly on Restonic and their own Platinum Dreams line.

I personally wouldn’t feel bad about this. They make great quality mattresses and they do use all natural talalay latex and actual organic Dunlop latex (made by Coco latex) and for some people this and the service of the outlet that sells them may be worth the extra cost. If it’s not … then this becomes a way that they might choose to adjust their prices to better compete with outlets that offer the same service and materials at a lower cost which I think is a good thing. I understand your hesitancy but if you let them know the difference in what they are charging compared to an outlet that has the same materials at a lower price then and this happens enough it become part of the market forces that produces better value for consumers. I think any manufacturer or outlet would be happy to have someone walk through their front door and test their mattresses and give them a chance to compete for your business. They may even offer something which makes it worthwhile for you to purchase from them. In any case they at least have a chance at your business which they wouldn’t have at all if you never walked through their door. My personal belief is that I am happy to pay a premium for a mattress purchased locally which I have actually tried over an online purchase. It’s only when the “premium” is too much that I would choose to buy elsewhere.

If the quilting is polyfoam then the “soft to the touch” and even the appearance of a quilted top is one of the main reasons it is used. If the quilting is a natural fiber such as wool … then the breathability and microclimate it provides along with the fire protection is the most important reason for the choice.

Many natural mattresses use a compressed wool quilting to pass the fire code and it is the most natural way to do so. For those that don’t use this type of fire barrier, then alternative methods of passing the fire code need to be used. My favorite of the “alternatives” is a material made of viscose which is impregnated with silica. They are often called Visil or Milliken although these are brand names and there are many others. They are part of the ticking. All mattresses have to pass the fire code “as a whole” (a prototype actually has to be burned with a blowtorch before it is passed) although you can purchase a mattress without a fire barrier of any kind from a manufacturer who makes them with a prescription from a medical professional. So without the wool or without a prescription you would have an inherent fire barrier in the ticking.

Bamboo blends are a very strong and breathable material that also have a very nice hand feel. They are often thought of as natural but they are a form of rayon or viscose (using a plant fiber pulp) which is not as natural as many people think or advertise. They are very nice but would probably not be the first choice for someone who wanted all natural or environmentally friendly materials.

Hope this helps and keep the questions coming because if you have them then others probably will as well :slight_smile:


We don’t want any polyfoam because of both offgassing and degradation concerns. It just doesn’t seem worth the time trying to figure out what would maybe be “ok” when latex is available. We also like things to be clean and simple as possible (some would describe as “minimalist”), even though we are not extreme in this regard.

So do you know if the SleepEz stretchable cover is made with this silica impregnated material (sounds like it would have to be)? I’m attracted to the thought of combining a small “soft to the touch” layer with the easier removed/replaced mattress pad than having it built into the cover, but may want the more natural option for the cover. Are there other things besides silica that make viscose a less natural option, as I’m not sure if silica concerns me or not? Are there anything nice covers advertised for if I did have a prescription (my wife may be able to get one as she has many skin allergies)?

For a local company to get my business, they would need to provide an all natural latex mattress in a zippered cover at a minimum (I feel I should be able to inspect and swap/replace latex without having to cut the cover off). I might also prefer they provide it in a non-quilted cover as well. I’ll try to see what they will do, and I’ll certainly report back when we pull the trigger on something.

Hi jdog,

I share your general minimalist point of view and in most cases I believe it leads to better mattress choices.

Yes, the SleepEz non quilted cover is a stretch knit that is very flexible so it can take full advantage of the latex underneath it. The fire barrier is the inherent (silica/viscose) type and this is IMO a good choice (I used it in my own mattress). More information about natural vs synthetic preferences and different fire barrier choices are in this article.

Viscose (Rayon) is a highly processed less natural material (some call it semi synthetic or artificial) even though it uses a “natural” raw material such as wood cellulose or various plant fibers (such as bamboo). Silica of course is one of the most common elements on the earth.

Some manufacturers make mattresses without a fire barrier for those who have a prescription but they are a more specialized option so if this is a desirable option for you in spite of the better choices that are available, it would be a good idea to ask each manufacturer if they have this option available, what covers they have available, and what (if any) the cost of this option would be.


Thanks Phoenix,

I see that the folks at say that there is no such thing as a natural fiber combination that meets the current fire requirements (16 CFR 1633). They don’t seem to be referring to Viscose, but where is the disconnect with most people saying that wool provides the required fire resistance (without additional chemicals).

meant to post this link (see #6):

Hi jdog,

There a few things on their site that aren’t quite correct (just like many many other sites all across the internet) and that’s one of them. Not only are there many wool quilted mattresses that have passed 1633 … some of them are not only natural but use organic materials.

Compressed wool that is thick enough forms a char when it burns which smothers and extinguishes the fire and protects the materials under it from the fire.


How does the I comfort compare to the Tempurpedic?

Hi Canuck,

You will find some of my more detailed thoughts about the Tempurpedic (and the memory foam market) in Post #5 herePost #20 here, … and post #2 here.

While general comparisons between brands (rather than specific mattresses) can be more misleading than helpful … it would be “somewhat” fair to say that the iComfort is most comparable to the Tempurpedic Cloud line.

In terms of value … it’s difficult to compare because different people have different ideas of what they value besides just price. Of course a mattress needs to provide the basics of pressure relief and alignment (the 2 main functions of a mattress) but the intangible preferences such as “feel”, breathability, temperature, ease of movement, motion isolation, durability, natural ingredients, how a mattress looks, and many others have a different level of importance in each person’s “value equation”.

In essence … the Tempurpedic will probably be more durable and is a more 'known" quantity in terms of long term performance but the “feel” of the iComfort is very popular (as evidenced by its success). I don’t think either of them represent good value though when making an “apples to apples” comparison with other options … particularly when comparing with local manufacturers that make mattresses that use equal or higher quality materials and sell them at a lower price. The comparison itself is between lower value and lower value.

Post #26 here will give you an idea of the different types of gel memory foam which are appearing in the market. An example of a local manufacturer who (among others) makes a higher value gel memory foam mattress is here.

So the “best” answer I could give you is that they both represent a lower value choice for different reasons and that I would have real difficulty if I was forced to choose between them. I would personally be looking in different directions.


Hi jdog,

I thought I’d add this link to the wool fire retardancy information.

I consider the person who wrote this to be one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry and I value his opinions highly. He has been heavily involved in mattress design for many years and has a rare combination of experience in different parts of the industry, knowledge of scientific fact, and intuitive abilities.

He is one of the few that I consider to be a true expert in this industry whose opinions are formed with careful research and personal experience.


I know it’s been mentioned that a quilted cover firms up the feel of the comfort layer. If soft - medium - firm layers from sleepez is typical/recommended for our profiles with a wool/cotton quilted cover, do you think a more firm configuration would be typical using the stretch cover? I’m hoping to avoid layer swap(s) if we can and am concerned about the comfort layer being to soft…

Also to set the record straight, the Lebeda mattress is 1" talalay latex on each side of a 6" latex core. The salesman was sure there had to be polyfoam for the 1" layers until he decided to call someone. I didn’t make him re-call to find out the ILD’s that aren’t published on their summary sheet. It didn’t seem my store was interested in customization of any type.

Hi jdog,

There is a wide variety of different levels of value and levels of "custom building’ between different manufacturers. There is also a wide variety of different levels of knowledge and service between them and this is particularly true with some factory direct outlets with multiple locations where some locations are better than others. As a group … local manufacturers provide much better value, quality, and service than other choices but within this group there are exceptions and there are also better and worse choices within the “better” group.

Like most things connected to mattress materials and construction … the real answer here is more complex than it may seem on the surface and boils down to “it depends”. What it depends on is individual perception, different weight distributions and body profiles, and on the fact that a layer (including the ticking/quilting) will have different effects on different layers below it.

For example … even the firmest layer of wool would provide some cushioning if you were lying on the floor. That same wool layer may reduce the cushioning if it was on top of a very soft surface like a very soft gel. This is because in one case it is softer than the floor and would increase the surface area that was bearing the load. In the other case it would decrease the surface area that was bearing the load compared to what the gel alone may do. In the same way … a more or less stretchy or relatively firmer material either in the quilting or the ticking could reduce the ability of the material underneath it to form a deep enough cradle to adequately relieve pressure or conversely it could better allow for the best possible pressure relieving cradle of the material underneath it. The thickness of the wool and how much it was compressed and the amount of its resilience would also make a difference here.

The softer the foam on top of a mattress and the deeper someone tends to sink in to the top layers … the more the quilting/ticking can affect how the mattress performs and feels to them. Firmer less stretchy quilting/ticking materials in other words will will tend to have a bigger effect on softer comfort layers and on people who need a deeper cradle to provide the best pressure relief. For those who prefer firmer or thinner comfort layers which are “not quite enough” for that particular individual … a thicker quilting can help distribute pressure just enough to put them inside their optimal range. For those who use a thicker softer comfort layer which is “just enough” for optimal pressure relief for their needs and preferences … adding a wool quilted ticking may put them on “the other side of optimal”. For those who are in the middle of their optimal range and have room to spare in either direction … then both types would likely still work well for them. This is why you see so many conflicting opinions from different people about the effect of the same material added or removed from the same type of mattress.

Part of the problem too … and this goes to your other question in the other thread which I have yet to get to … is that softness and firmness can be very misleading terms. IMO … it’s much more accurate to talk in terms of pressure relief and alignment which are separate yet interconnected functions and soft and firm have different meanings when applied to each. A mattress in other words can be both too soft and too firm (or the other way around) at the same time depending on which function a person is talking about.

So in essence … a non quilted more stretchy cover will improve the pressure relief potential of a mattress with softer foam for most people. Wool quilting will tend towards reducing it with soft layers of foam in the comfort layers again for most people. Because the upper layers have a smaller secondary effect on alignment (most of the alignment properties of a mattress comes from the support layers assuming the comfort layers are an appropriate thickness) … it can also make a small difference here as well which will be more noticeable for those who are on the “edge” of the best alignment and use the ticking/quilting of a mattress to “fine tune” them into their optimal range.

So I doubt that the more stretch non quilted ticking would make your mattress too soft because the layering is within the range of what would be most appropriate for most people of your body weight and shape that were side sleepers. If you were right on the edge however of crossing over the threshhold of the the ability of a mattress to hold up your hips which were “almost” sinking in too far, it could put you over the line for best alignment. If on the other hand your shoulders were “on the edge” and being held up too high by the comfort layer ticking/quilting combination and not quite sinking in far enough either for alignment or pressure relief (even though the heavier hips were) … then it could actually improve both pressure relief and overall alignment.

So whether either type of quilting/ticking would keep you in the optimal range of both pressure relief and alignment would depend on whether you felt you were “on the edge” in either area or “well within” your optimal range.

One other consideration to take into account is that for those who like to sleep on wool … there is always the option of adding a wool quilted mattress protector instead of a more basic mattress protector without any wool or other fibers and this would be “similar” to a wool quilted ticking although even here because it would not be as integrated into the structure of the mattress and would more easily pull in from the sides … it would not have quite the same effect as having wool in the quilting.

I know that this was probably a longer and possibly more complex reply than you were hoping for but I always believe that it’s better to help people understand the “direction” each change can lead to and the reasons why rather than provide more black and white answers that don’t necessarily apply to any individual.